China’s oldest capital is now the Most Dynamic city


“If Xi’an is the grandmother of cities, Beijing is a youth and Shanghai is just a baby in the womb.”

That is how the long history of Xi’an (西安), capital of northwestern China’s Shaanxi Province, was aptly summed up by the BBC’s English-speaking guide.

The first of China’s four great ancient capitals (the other three being Luoyang, Nanjing and Beijing), Xi’an’s hoary past has laid claim to 10 ancient dynasties, the most famous being the Han Dynasty (206BC to 220AD) and the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907AD), during which the city was a booming metropolis as important as Rome.

Despite of being the oldest, Xi’an has recently been crowned the most dynamic city in China, according to City Momentum Index 2019: Technology, Transparency and Transformation, recently released by real estate services and investment firm JLL.

Nine cities from China made this year’s top 20, with Xi’an, often known for its Terracotta Warriors, leading Chinese cities in the rankings at ninth place. It was followed by Guangzhou (10), Nanjing (11), Beijing (13), Shanghai (14), Chongqing (16), Hangzhou (17), Shenzhen (19) and Chengdu (20).

This western China city has traditionally lagged its coastal peers, but it is catching up on the back of its strategic position on the Silk Road and its strengths in innovation and R&D, according to the JLL research.

“Struggling with severe air pollution, the city is now seeking innovative solutions such as the installation of a 100-metre-high air-purifying tower to reduce smog,” it goes.

The index, in its sixth year, tracks a range of socioeconomic and commercial real estate indicators to identify attributes for success over the short term. It ranked 131 established and emerging business hubs across the world.


The Asia-Pacific region is home to 19 of the top 20 cities in this year’s index, and overall, Indian and Chinese cities dominate the rankings, accounting for three-quarters of the top 20.

Only one city outside of Asia Pacific, Nairobi, ranks in the 20 most dynamic cities in the globe; and even in Nairobi there is a powerful Asian influence with significant amounts of investment from China focused mainly on infrastructure projects.


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